Denon AVR-4520 & 5.1 Audio to 7.1 Output - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 02-24-2013, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Folks :-)

I have a question which I hoped someone could help me get an answer on...

I recently upgraded me HT-setup with the Denon AVR-4520 and added a pair of new surround back speakers.

It all works perfectly, but it's when watching movies with 5.1 audio I'm a bit baffled :-P

When i watch a 5.1 movie with either regular DTS or DTS HD Master Audio, the receiver automatically outputs 7.1 and states that it's playing in regular "DTS Surround" for DTS 5.1, and "DTS HD MSTR" for DTS HD MA 5.1. It does not give any indication that it's utilizing any DSP-Mode..

When I watch a 5.1 DD or True HD movie however, I actively have to select/switch surround mode to DD + PLIIx to get it to output 7.1...

Do anyone know the reason for this, and maybe know a bit more about how the Denon Receivers handle DTS 5.1 tracks, which makes it output 7.1 but does not indicate that it in fact "virtualize" the two additional channels/speaker?

And by the way, Yes, I've tried to read the user manual on this specific topic, but haven't been able to figure out anything more..:-(

Thx in advance :-)
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post #2 of 24 Old 02-24-2013, 06:35 PM
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DTS Master Audio Essential decoders duplicate the surrounds to the rears for 7.1 output. I don't know that your decoding device has an Essential decoder. But, that would explain it.

As for all DTS tracks playing in DTS Surround rather than dts-MA, that would seem to be a player issue. What player do you have and what are the audio output settings?
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post #3 of 24 Old 02-26-2013, 01:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi, and thank you for your response :-)

Unfortunately it doesn't really answer my specific "problem"..

To clarify my initial question/text:
When I play DTA HD MA 5.1 it states the correct codec, as it also does with regular DTS, BUT it always outputs 7.1, regardless whether I choose to enable PLIIx/Neo-X or not. I cannot choose to play it in native 5.1 mode :-(

Tested a few more times yesterday, and can confirm that it has the same result/output whether it comes from my Denon Blu-Ray or my Boxee Box. Both are configured to send the audio as Bitstream (and not PCM).

It's not that I don't want it to use the full 7.1 functionality of my system, rather that I would like to know and understand why it does so :-)

Hope you and/or someone else could perhaps test this in your own system (preferrably with a newer Denon Receiver) and explain what's going on.

Thx :-)
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post #4 of 24 Old 02-26-2013, 06:49 AM
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The first part of my post was about your specific problem. If your Denon has a DTS-HD Master Audio Essential decoder, then that is why 5.1 DTS sources always play in 7.1. That's one of the "features" of Essential decoders. Look at the part of the manual where all of the trademarked elements are described. It will say whether the DTS decoder is Essential.

I only added the second part of the response because your post said the receiver always reports playing regular DTS Surround, even when the source is Master Audio. What did you mean when your wrote: "When i watch a 5.1 movie with either regular DTS or DTS HD Master Audio, the receiver ... states that it's playing in regular DTS Surround Mode"?

EDIT: According to the manual, the 4520CI has a fully functional DTS-HD decoder along with DTS Neo:X. So, Essential decoding is not the cause of your problem. However, you should not see DTS Surround displayed when playing a DTS-HD source. The manual says DTS Surround should only be shown on the display and is only available as a Listening Mode when the input is a good old fashioned lossy DTS or DTS ES signal.

jdsmoothie and batpig are the resident Denon experts in the forum. Perhaps they can explain why you cannot apply PLIIx or other such DSPs when the input source is any sort of DTS 5.1.
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post #5 of 24 Old 02-26-2013, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi again, and thx again for your response :-)

Ok, I think I should have edited my initial post, as it might have been a bit confusing in regards to what's really the issue :-)
As you also stated, I couldn't find any reference on it having an Essentials decoder etc.

What I really meant by this: "When i watch a 5.1 movie with either regular DTS or DTS HD Master Audio, the receiver ... states that it's playing in regular DTS Surround Mode", was that when playing DTS (lossy) the receiver informs that it plays "DTS Surround", and for DTS HD Master Audio, it informs that its playing "DTS HD MSTR", so this is in fact correct.

And it is not that I'm not able to activate/select Neo-X/PLIIx when playing these sources, the issue is that it always outputs/upmix this to 7.1 regardless if I do that or not..
As I've understood, playing a 5.1 track in either "DTS Surround" and/or "DTS HD MSTR" should only utilize 5.1 channels, and not 7.1 unless I specifically tell it to do so...

So to be able to use all 7.1 channels, I should in theory have to actively select to apply Neo-X or PLIIx..
As it is now, there is no way for me to make it play the 5.1 track in native 5.1. It's stuck at 7.1 channels :-(

So to sum it up:
- Source: DTS 5.1 (Lossy) or DTS HD MA (5.1)
- Output: Always 7.1 Channels
- Surround Mode: Verified Standard/Direct (No DSP)
- Unable to play in 5.1 Mode

Asked one of the guys at the store where I bought the receiver, and they have an AVR-3313 setup for 7.1, and tried to play a 5.1 DTS HD MA movie, and in their case, it worked as expeceted: Standard/Direct Mode --> 5.1 Channel output. But there might be some differences between these to receivers though..

Thx again for your response, and your effort to help me with this "issue".
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post #6 of 24 Old 02-26-2013, 11:36 AM
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Good luck. I'm interested in hearing why your AVR insists on playing DTS as 7.1 rather than allowing your to hear the 5.1 original. As a workaround, you could have your player do the decoding and send PCM (provided, of course, the player doesn't have an Essential decoder).
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post #7 of 24 Old 02-28-2013, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Now we're getting somewhere, guys :-)

I took the liberty to PM both batpig and jdsmothie (thx for the tip, BIslander) and asked if they could be so kind and give their input on the matter as well.

batpig immediately recognized the issue:
Quote:
Yeah, to be honest I'm not 100% clear on the specifics of what/why it happens, but I can just tell you from experience that other 4520 owners have reported the exact same thing, so I knew exactly what it was when I read your post.

jdsmoothie also had an explanation to point us in the right direction:
Quote:
This was a feature that could be set to ON/OFF on prior year models although the feature was dropped on the XX13 models and apparently set to OFF on the 3313CI and ON on the 4520CI.

This lead me to download various user manuals for the current, and a few of the previous Denon receivers. From what I found it might seem like Denon made a decision to remove/hide some of the Surround Back specific settings in the Surround Parameter section, on the XX13- and 4520-models and onwards. Some of the previous models, like the AVR-3311, AVR-3312, AVR-4311 etc. all have it's on section to adjust settings for how the Surround Back speakers should behave in various situations... On the newest/current models however this seems to have been replaced by a section called "Speaker Select", which only let us choose whether output to the surround back should be enabled or not, period...

You can see the difference in the menus on the pictures below:

AVR-3312 (Surround Back - Settings)

AVR-3313 (Speaker Select - Settings)


AVR-4311 (Surround Back - Settings)

AVR-4520 (Speaker Select - Settings)


If it is as jdsmoothie explains, and the default setting for the AVR-4520 is equal to the previous "ON"-setting from the AVR-3312 and/or the AVR-4311, there is nothing more to discuss smile.gif

It just bugs me that they make decissions to trim the various options, and make wild assumptions on what "all" users might and might not want to be able to adjust.
Also, as mentioned previously, it's not that it doesn't sound good or anything like that, but it's rather inconvenient to have to go into all kind of sub-menus and change the speaker-setup to be able to listen to the native 5.1 track, if one would wish to do so mad.gif

Nevertheless this lack of information in the user manual for the AVR-4520 (and the AVR-3313 for that matter) is something that Denon should really fix. It's very difficult to truly understand what's going on in the audio-processing bit, when they leave out bits and pieces... (Better to use batpigs manuals I think smile.gif)

But anyway, thank you all for your input on this issue.
I'm expecting to get a "reply" from my local store (as Denon Support couldn't care less to answer me directly tongue.gif) tomorrow on their thoughts on the matter.
I will update this post, if something interresting comes up.

Thank you so much wink.gif
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post #8 of 24 Old 02-28-2013, 11:34 PM - Thread Starter
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By the way, I tried to locate the "Speaker Select" menu under the "Surround Parameter" section on my receiver yesterday, but I couldn't find it.

Does anyone of you know in which case this menu is visible/accessible?

Thx
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post #9 of 24 Old 03-01-2013, 02:29 AM
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The manual p. 123 lists when the "Speaker Select" setting is available. Also note that rather than running your own thread, there is a dedicated thread just for 4520CI owners ....

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1430049/the-official-denon-avr-4520ci-thread/0_100

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post #10 of 24 Old 03-01-2013, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, thx for the tip jdsmoothie.

I've read that section of the user manual, but although my Amp Assign is set to "7.1 + Zone 2", and the Surround Back in speaker config is set to "Small" and "2 spkrs", the "Speaker Select"-menu is not visible/accessible for me frown.gif

I will continue posting future questions in that thread instead smile.gif

Thx agian.
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post #11 of 24 Old 03-13-2013, 06:24 PM
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I have been having the same problem
It defaults to 7.1 in dts mode
I miss the on the fly buttons
That have been in my other denon amps
I wish you can change from 71. To 5.1 with a easy button
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post #12 of 24 Old 03-17-2013, 06:46 PM
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Only just noticed this last night whilst watching Game Of Thrones I couldn't figure out why it was displaying 7.1 for the 5.1 soundtrack. I even checked a few disc reviews to make sure the disc box wasn't labelled incorrectly.
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post #13 of 24 Old 10-28-2013, 03:04 PM
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Incidentally, the DTS way of handling this is correct. Think of 5.1 playback in cinemas - the Left Surround channel is playing back through the surround speakers on the left wall and the left half of the back wall, and the Right Surround channel plays back in the same way. Cinemas adopted 7.1 long after Blu Ray did, and that's how they've always been playing back 5.1 content.
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post #14 of 24 Old 10-28-2013, 11:58 PM
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I am curious. Why do you think it is better to duplicate the surround channels to the rears rather than allowing the listener to engage more sophisticated methods of channel expansion such as PLIIx?
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post #15 of 24 Old 10-29-2013, 12:34 PM
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I should have said the DTS way of handling is correct in the absence of an upmix algorithm such as PLIIx, in that what you want is all 4 surrounds active and not have Left Back and Right Back be silent. Again, remembering that cinemas in 5.1 mode have the Left Surround channel playing back across multiple speakers on both the side and back walls.

As a matter of personal preference, I prefer to listen to the mix that the mixers created, without an algorithm deciding where to steer the channel information - but that is just me and YMMV.
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post #16 of 24 Old 10-29-2013, 06:36 PM
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I doubt that mixers intend you to hear their 5.1 mixes with the surrounds duplicated behind you. If you want the artist's intent, shouldn't you play 5.1 as 5.1?

Unfortunately, DTS seems to be taking the approach that people with 7.1 systems should always hear 7.1 outputs and does so in a way that prevents the user from choosing how to produce 7.1 or from listening in 5.1.
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post #17 of 24 Old 10-30-2013, 09:15 AM
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But 5.1 in cinemas has *always* had the surround duplicated behind you. I don't think the 5.1 playback should be crippled by adding a giant hole in the sound field behind you, because you have added the ability to play back 7.1.

I forgot to mention that the DTS decoder also drops the surrounds 3dB, so that the overall surround level is correct when playing back 5.1 on a 7.1 setup.
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post #18 of 24 Old 10-30-2013, 06:02 PM
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Let me see if I understand your position. Are you saying a 5.1 track mixed to phantom image specific rear effects has a giant hole behind the listener when played on a 5.1 system? I certainly don't find that to be the case.

What I am saying is that the end user should decide whether and how to expand 5.1 tracks on 7.1 systems. The DTS approach of forced expansion by duplicating the surrounds to the rears denies the end user that kind of control.
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post #19 of 24 Old 10-31-2013, 10:13 AM
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I do see your point that you would prefer post-processing to do the steering to the rears.

Part of the problem is that there was never a definitive resolution to the question of "where should the surround speakers be placed in a 5.1 system?" If I recall the arguments from those days correctly, one school of thought held that the LS and RS speakers should be directly in line with with the listening position, to the left and right (so you could draw a horizontal line between the LS & RS speakers, which would cross through the listeners). Another wanted the speakers to the left and right, but a bit behind, the listening position - in the corners, if you will.

In cinemas, the LS and RS speakers are both to the left and right of the audience, and also behind. So imagine for a moment that 7.1 had never been invented: you could make a strong case that the *best* setup for a home theater, given enough space and money, would still be to have 2 speakers apiece for the LS and RS channels: one in the "in-line" position, and one behind the listening position. And in fact you did find people doing setups like this for 6.1 DVDs, where instead of a single speaker on the back wall for the Extended Surround channel, they would put 2 speakers - for a total of 4 surrounds. The proper playback for that setup is Left Surround goes to the Left Surround speaker, the Center Back channel went to the Left Back and Right Back speakers, and the Right Surround went to the Right Surround speakers. In such a setup, if you were playing 5.1 content, you would want the LS channel going to the LS and LB speakers, and the RS channel going to the RS and RB speakers. The next logical step is then to have discrete 7.1, with mixers controlling all 4 surround speakers individually.

And in fact, the above transition is what happened in cinemas. There had always been surround speakers on both the side walls and the back walls - first split into just LS and RS, then in 1999 the ES channel made a separate channel out of the back wall, and finally 7.1 split the surrounds into all 4 quadrants. But if you play back a 5.1 movie in a movie theater equipped with 7.1 playback, the LS is played back over the LS and LB speakers.
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post #20 of 24 Old 04-30-2014, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balle3201 View Post

Ok, thx for the tip jdsmoothie.

I've read that section of the user manual, but although my Amp Assign is set to "7.1 + Zone 2", and the Surround Back in speaker config is set to "Small" and "2 spkrs", the "Speaker Select"-menu is not visible/accessible for me frown.gif

I will continue posting future questions in that thread instead smile.gif

Thx agian.

Wish I had seen this post sooner. Now I understand why this receiver is behaving differently than the two AVR3311s that I have. Does anyone know if this "feature" is also present for Dolby True HD 5.1 sources? Or is it just for the DTS ones?

Thanks.
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post #21 of 24 Old 06-28-2014, 01:53 PM
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Can anybody tell my why my 4520 is stuck in PLII Cinema? I have tried everything and cannot get it in DTS MA 5.1 Any thing you can suggest? Thanks
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post #22 of 24 Old 06-28-2014, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reefdvr27 View Post
Can anybody tell my why my 4520 is stuck in PLII Cinema? I have tried everything and cannot get it in DTS MA 5.1 Any thing you can suggest? Thanks
Seems to me your player has defaulted to 2 CH Stereo. Check the player first.
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post #23 of 24 Old 06-28-2014, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mogorf View Post
Seems to me your player has defaulted to 2 CH Stereo. Check the player first.
Not the player. This is really weird. I have looked under all the options in the surround mode key and nothing. It is in full surround, just does not say DTS as it usually does?
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post #24 of 24 Old 06-28-2014, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reefdvr27 View Post
Not the player. This is really weird. I have looked under all the options in the surround mode key and nothing. It is in full surround, just does not say DTS as it usually does?
Does the display on the AVR show Dolby PLII Cinema or "Multi CH IN"? If the later then your player is doing the decoding and sending discrete channels (PCM) to the AVR. Nothing wrong with that. But if you'd like to see "DTS" on the AVR you need to change the player's output to "bitstream", instead of PCM.
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